Moroccan authorities plan new laws to combat art forgeries in growing market

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco is planning on passing new laws and strengthening penalties to combat art forgeries in order to protect a multimillion dollar art market that officials believe will continue to grow.

The North African nation‘s chief prosecutor on Monday kicked off a series of meetings with the country’s ministry of culture and the National Foundation of Museums to discuss methods and practices to better police and detect forged paintings and artworks, including handing down harsher sentences and better regulating auction houses.

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“This problem is a real danger in this field,” said Mehdi Ben Said, Morocco’s minister of youth, culture and communication. “Moroccan paintings are now exported abroad and to combat forgery, it is essential to clean this business.”

Officials valued the country’s art market at roughly $2.5 million and noted paintings in particular were gaining renown throughout the Middle East, particularly in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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With their efforts, Morocco joins a list of countries to increasingly pursue forgeries, including the United States, where the FBI’s art crime team has taken on a more active role pursuing forgeries like those of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat in 2023.